Tuesday, July 23, 2013

All You Need to Know to Succeed in Life

A young mom, barely out of her teens, sits with three babies under the age of six. She wilts beneath the withering control of her second baby daddy. It is obvious which ones are his because the little girl cannot escape his soul-killing tirades. Inwardly, I weep.

I watch him and know that he is doing all he knows to do – the pitiful best he can against even more pitiful odds.

They wander near me. I say, “Shush. Shush,” in my most newborn-soothing tone. “You are working so hard to be a good daddy. She is such a sweet little girl. Relax. She is fine. She hasn’t made a peep. Let her breathe. You take a breath too. How long has it been since you simply took a breath?”

Behind him, I see Baby Mamma’s eyes fill and glisten with tears she’s fighting to hold back. “Thank you,” she mouths without a sound.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
The pleading in her eyes says volumes more. All these months later, her desperate, pleading gaze haunts my dreams. And, I wonder, who is telling her what it takes to succeed?

I wish. I wish I could gather them under my wing and listen to their stories. How have they found themselves in this hard pressed life they are living? Who gave them the map that said this way of life was the road to success?

I look around and ponder images of success: the rock and movie stars, YouTube sensations, and techno-wizards. I think of the infamous living life out loud, Kardashian, Honey-Boo-Boo, and 16 and Pregnant style. Is this what success looks like?

Courtesy B. Creasy
If I saw Baby Mamma and Daddy again, I would gather them under my wing and tell them what success really looks like.

1) Success is rarely lived out loud in the pages of tabloids or on the television screen. It happens in the quiet moments of life when no one anywhere is watching.

Micah 6:8 (Message) But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don’t take yourself too seriously—take God seriously.

2) Know that you have value beyond anything you can imagine. You are not here by accident. A creator God gave you purpose before he made the world.

c. 1997
Psalm 139: 15-16 (Message) You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.

3) You have a purpose to fulfill. In the history of all mankind, only you can fulfill that mission. You are not a mistake.

Ephesians 2:10 (NET) For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them.

4) Even if no one in your life has ever been trustworthy, there is someone you can trust. Be trustworthy because he is trustworthy.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative 
Psalm 37: 3-5 (NRSV) Trust in the Lord, and do good; so you will live in the land, and enjoy security. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.

5) Embrace hard work knowing others will respect you for it. Laziness brings dishonor and robs you of self-respect.

Ephesians 4:28 (Amplified) Let the thief steal no more, but rather let him be industrious, making an honest living with his own hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need. 

Proverbs 6: 6-8 (Message) You lazy fool, look at an ant. Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two. Nobody has to tell it what to do. All summer it stores up food; at harvest it stockpiles provisions.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative 
6) If you won’t do it for someone else, don’t expect it to be done for you. Treat others the way you expect to be treated.

Matthew 7:12 (Message) Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them.

7) Love fearlessly and know that if you are fearful, your love is not real.

1 John 4:18 (NASB) There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

8) Do not be selfish. Recognize selfishness when you see it, and run like your hair is on fire when you do.

Proverbs 23: 6-8 (NASB) Do not eat the bread of a selfish man, or desire his delicacies; For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, “Eat and drink!” But his heart is not with you. You will vomit up the morsel you have eaten, and waste your compliments.

Courtesy A. Squires
9) Know that God gave you the ability to recognize right and wrong. Do what you know is right even if no one else will.

(Amplified Bible) Abstain from evil [shrink from it and keep aloof from it] in whatever form or whatever kind it may be.

10) Be gracious, respectful, and mannerly toward total strangers. Hold doors for young women, mothers, and the elderly. Say thank you. Let the other driver go first in traffic just because. Pay it forward.

Philippians 2:3 (NASB) Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;

Courtesy B. Creasy - 2010
I will always wonder about that young, struggling, not-quite-couple in the doctor’s office. What would you tell them success looks like?